You guys. This band.
I've seen a lot of music live. Everything from Jay-Z and Kanye to Tom Petty to The Avett Brothers. There is nothing that I love more. And Sprit Family Reunion is the best there is. I know that's a bold statement, but no band I've ever seen gets a crowd wrapped around its finger and singing and dancing and stomping like they do.
The Brooklyn-based band rarely (never) comes to the West coast. I first saw them at Newport last year, and I was hooked. When I found out they were playing up north in my favorite college town, I planned a road trip to Flagstaff without missing a beat. Then their van broke down (#indiefanproblems). The show was cancelled.
Busted van aside, something must have convinced them that the West coast has it's advantages, because they've tried again and popped up a number of times in the last year. When I heard they'd be playing at Way Over Yonder, I couldn't wait to get there.
There they were, crammed together with all their instruments on the smallest stage in existence. And they killed it. It took five seconds for the entire crowd to enthusiastically join in. People who heard them from the pier streamed in to check them out.
Because when Spirit Family asks you to sing loud and stomp your feet, you do it. No questions asked.
When the Newport Folk Festival decided to give a West coast weekend a go, I got excited. I was clicking "buy" on tickets before I had finished reading the tweet about Way Over Yonder.
Because I loveNewport.
I wasn't sure it would be the same. I loved being at the Fort so much last year that I was worried my dreamy expectations would be left unsatisfied. I didn't want that wonderful feeling of musical perfection tarnished.
Good news is, it wasn't.
My dad spent many moments last year hinting at how jealous he was that my sister and I got to go to Newport. When I told him Jackson Browne was headlining, he nearly lost it.
And when I came home and told him I had spent an entire set listening to Joel Rafael while standing next to his musical hero, that was it.
My dad is fairly trusting of my musical tastes and generally thinks I'm a pretty cool adult that is fun to hang out with, so it was only fitting that he be my partner for Way Over Yonder. We packed up and road tripped it over to the Santa Monica Pier, and spent a couple days listening to great acts like Brett Dennen, Shovels & Rope, Neko Case and First Aid Kit in the ocean air. I fell in love with new folks like the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers and Frank Fairfield.
And I got to practically sit on stage while my very, very favorite folk outfit, Spirit Family Reunion, shook the floor with their talent (I love them so much they'll get their own post...stay tuned!).
And on Sunday afternoon, when we wandered in and found Joel Rafael singing a set to a small, quiet crowd, I looked around, remembering the magic of Newport. My eyes landed on an unassuming guy in a baseball hat and shades, again enjoying his friend's set. I tapped my dad on the shoulder, pointed to my left, and then got to watch as he walked over and shook the hand of his musical hero.
And my dreamy expectations lived on.
The Lumineers came to town.
And they were great.
Even a little under the weather, they are some pretty wonderful performers and it's a show I won't soon forget.
Check out a few of my favorite performances by this great, great band: